British Tomato Fortnight – Our Guide to the Ultimate Tomato Sauce - the pizza oven shop uk

British Tomato Fortnight – Our Guide to the Ultimate Tomato Sauce

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that great pizza requires the best ingredients. The tomatoes in your tomato sauce are no exception. One thing that might surprise you though is that fresh isn’t always best. At least not here in the UK anyway! Have you ever been on holiday in the Mediterranean and said, ‘why don’t the tomatoes back home taste like this?’.

Well, the main reason for it is because most of us buy our tomatoes from the supermarket. Customers demand that fruits and vegetables look immaculate, in perfect shape with no blemishes, and have a long shelf life. The very nature of supermarket supply chains mean tomatoes are picked early and are ripening while in transit on the way to the shelves. This means by the time they land on the shelf they look attractive, and will stay fresh for many days after purchase.

The 29th May until 11th June 2023 marks British Tomato Fortnight, which gives us a good excuse to highlight the importance of the humble toms. Home grown British tomatoes are full of flavour, naturally sweet and inexpensive when bought locally. Having said that, it’s fair to say the window of peak tomato season in the UK is fairly small. What all this means in practice is unless you time it right, you’re quite often better off buying good quality tinned Italian plum tomatoes. There, we said it! We recommend San Marzano DOP, the DOP meaning they’re “protected designation of origin”, so you’re guaranteeing authenticity and quality.

You might have guessed by now that the reason we’re barking on about tomatoes so much is that we want to give you a simple, delicious recipe for the best tomato sauce for your next pizza party. So here goes.

The Ultimate Tomato Sauce (makes approx. 6 pizzas)

It might surprise you that the most authentic Neapolitan tomato sauce involves zero cooking, nada, zilch. This means that it’s super easy, quick and straightforward. It also requires very little in the way of ingredients. We’ve seen a whole host of recipes both online and in recipe books that list a huge number of ingredients and quite frankly overcomplicate something that is in fact super simple. The most important thing to note is if you’re using fresh tomatoes. Make sure they’re fresh, local and in season, or have the DOP label on them if using San Marzano tinned.

Our recipe contains just five ingredients, listed below.


  • 2x 400g Tins San Marzano DOP Plum Tomatoes
  • 6 tbsp Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2 tsp Oregano (Fresh if you can get it, dried if you can’t)
  • 3-4 leaves Fresh Basil (torn)
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt


Step 1: Pour the tomatoes into a bowl. Now this is the fun part; squish the plum tomatoes with your hands until they break up and resemble a ‘saucier’ consistency. If you’d prefer to use a knife to chop the tomatoes feel free, but no true Italian Nonna would do that! If you prefer your sauce to be super smooth, you can of course use a food processor to purify it.

Step 2: Add in your remaining ingredients and mix well. Put the sauce in the fridge for at least an hour before you use it, to enable the flavours to marry together.

And that’s literally it, we told you it was straightforward!

Ingredients to Avoid!

We mentioned above that you’ll find a plethora of recipes for “authentic” Italian tomato pizza sauce on the internet, most of which incorrectly list a number of ingredients which we say you should categorically avoid. These include;

  • Poor Quality Tomatoes – If you’re hell bent on using fresh tomatoes, ensure they’re perfectly ripe and sweet, and the best quality you can find, otherwise you’ll find they can be quite tasteless and acidic. If you’re using tinned, ensure DOP is stated somewhere on the can, as quite often tinned tomatoes are branded to look Italian, when in fact they’re not even from Italy, never mind the right region!
  • Sugar – This is a massive no, no. We can kind of see why some recipes include it, as if you’re using poor quality tomatoes, they do lack sweetness, but that’s why you need to use the best you can get your hands on!
  • Tomato Paste – This is often included to intensify the flavour of the sauce, and thicken it up. However, true Neapolitan tomato sauce shouldn’t be overly thick anyway.

Can I Make Pizza Sauce in Advance?

This is one of the real benefits of this sauce, especially if you’re hosting a pizza party and want to get ahead! As we mentioned earlier, this sauce actually benefits from being made in advance as the flavours have chance to marry together. You can make it a couple of hours before you need to or even a couple of days!

Can I Freeze Pizza Sauce?

You certainly can! If you have some sauce left over or decided to make a batch, you can just stick it in the freezer and get it out 24 hours before you need it. Simple! It should last up to 3 months in the freezer.

Top Tips

  • Don’t make it too thick – the sauce should be a loose, not thick and gloopy. This is where pizza sauce differs from pasta sauce.
  • Don’t add too much sauce to the pizza – if you do, it will make the dough soggy and cause the ingredients to slide of when cooked.

We hope you enjoyed learning about our ultimate tomato sauce, and more importantly we hope you give our recipe it a go! It really could not be simpler!

Thanks for reading,

The Pizza Oven Shop

Call us on 01423 608 648 for help and advice

Shop all